UK fintech urges MPs to seize the AI opportunity

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Credit: cono0430, Shutterstock

British MPs have been urged to recognise the ‘game-changing’ benefits artificial intelligence (AI) can bring to the country’s finance sectors by a group of fintech executives.

Last night, (29 January), fintech company leaders in question spoke to Parliament Street, a policy think tank oriented towards the governing Conservative Party, which is keen to foster growth in the UK finance sectors.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been a long-time advocate for growing and innovating the financial sector since his days as Chancellor of the Exchequer under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

This ambition has continued under his tenure as PM, which began in October 2022. Sunak’s fiscal policies, and those of his Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have increasingly looked towards developing the UK’s fintech networks, including in areas such as crypto, blockchain technology and AI.

Sharing his views with the think tank, at a summit hosted by Watford MP Dean Russell, Basware’s Head of Strategy Enablement, Bob Booth, said: “AI presents a huge opportunity to unlock growth by liberating businesses from complex, admin-heavy tasks and rapidly accelerating digital transformations.”

“For those organisations that get AI right, the impact that this technology will have on critical functions like sales and finance will be seismic, freeing up time, reducing overheads and allowing talent to thrive in a new world of work.”

AI’s usage in the finance sector is nothing new, with the technology having been utilised for a range of day-to-day business functions by financial institutions such as banks and investment firms in the city of London and Wall Street, for areas like risk management.

However, the tech has exploded – generative AI in particular – into the mainstream in recent years. For the general public, this is most visible in the form of ChatGPT and AI-generated art, but businesses are also looking to how it can be used to streamline processes.

This can be anything from the use of AI chatbots for quicker customer service – although this does risk leaving out the human element – to using the solutions for ID checking and fraud prevention, detecting suspicious transactions for AML, among other functions.

Scott Lewis, SVP, Ataccama, said: “AI is already helping organisations to overcome challenges in business-critical areas such as data quality, governance and strategy, and operational excellence. 

“With the introduction of Generative AI as the latest technologies, businesses are able to automate and accelerate processes in order to derive real value from customer data while adhering to the highest standards of regulatory compliance and privacy rules.”

Cultivation of a stronger AI sector in the UK was laid out as a key objective of the government in last year’s Autumn Budget, when Chancellor Hunt announced plans for a £500m investment in the technology. Although this investment was not entirely focused on AI, it was earmarked as a key growth target area for the government.

This is not to say that all voices have been entirely in favour of AI, however, as some concerns have been raised about the potential risks of the tech’s development.

In December last year, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey explained to journalists in December last year that the bank aims to address concerns that AI could ‘go too far’.

Making a reference to a cult science fiction classic, Bailey said that the BofE was not concerned about ‘2001: A Space Odyssey” levels of AI risk, but rather that the complexity of AI solutions need further assessment.

“It’s actually that the thing is so complicated in many of its forms that understanding exactly what the black box delivers is very hard,” he remarked.

Regardless, the UK government seems keen to press ahead with AI innovation, based on the Autumn budget. Further investment in the sector could be a possible outcome of the next financial statement, due in March.

If the sector’s remarks at last night’s Artificial Intelligence Summit are anything to go by, UK fintech shares the government’s enthusiasm for the intelligence and its prospects for financial growth.

As Niamh Kingsley, Director, Head of Artificial Intelligence of Delta Capita put it: “AI is truly a game-changing technology, which will have deep ramifications for businesses and wider society. 

“In the finance industry, we are seeing a real push to invest in innovative technologies to create a competitive and sustainable future. Whilst the use of AI is not novel, widespread uptake for the purposes of improved ways-of-working and customer experience, is on the increase.”